Archive for the ‘Hospital’ category

Four ways to improve access to Integrative Medicine Practices

November 13th, 2017

Licensure, regulation, medical evidence, and funding are four sure ways to speed up the process needed to allow integrative medicine practices to be embraced. If we begin with the assumption that money has a lot to do with everything medical in the United States, then we must look at the winners and losers and the WIFM’s?  (What’s in it for me?)  If you’re a practicing surgeon, and acupuncture or chiropractic care results in the patient not needing a surgery, that can be a financial threat to you. Let’s be fair, that probably doesn’t happen that often, but sometimes it does, and when it does, that’s money lost to your practice.

 

If you’ve spent four years in undergraduate school, four years in medical school, four or five years in a residency, and your educational debts amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, the last thing you need is a clinical study demonstrating through medical evidence that thousands of patients won’t need your services, and your skills will become exponentially less in the demand.

 

On the other hand, if, like ophthalmologists who surround their practices with optometrists, orthopods did the same with chiropractors and acupuncturists, could that not create a steady stream of referrals for their practices?

 

Let’s face it, there is a role for all three of those professions, and there are skill levels in every profession and duties relegated to each that both overlap and potentially conflict. So, wouldn’t it be better to have the three practice as a team of professionals working together to help you?

 

“There’s not enough medical evidence”  has been the hue and cry of the uninformed for years. Ironically, once traditional medical evidence is thoroughly interrogated, it’s not unusual to find numerous flaws in even the most accepted medical practices. We’ve seen slanted reporting in even the furthermost prestigious journals where various drugs, procedures, and devices have been proven to be ineffective years later.

 

There are over 19,000 papers that have been written and submitted to medical journals in which acupuncture has been endorsed and proven to be effective, but there never seems to be enough medical evidence for the naysayers.

 

Credentialing is a very challenging area as well.  Not unlike the highly skilled surgeon with her medical degrees from the Sorbonne in Paris that is not permitted to practice medicine in the United States, there are sometimes economic and political reasons to limit the number of practitioners allowed in the United States. In my experience, by creating a hospital-based credentials committee that specializes in integrative medicine, the nay-sayers ability to discredit highly trained practitioners with different skills will become more limited.

 

Regulation may be the most difficult challenge in this discussion because, as we have come to know very well, political power can come from political contributions, and when it comes to regulations, those with the gold have more clout than those without. That is not to say that our politicians can be encouraged to be more flexible because they can.  All it takes is for hundreds of constituents to stand in front of a Congressional office to encourage change to occur.

 

So, what are we really dealing with here?  In 1910, the AMA put out a request for proposal to determine what should be taught in the medical schools of Canada and the United States and no physician would accept that assignment.  Consequently, a Ph.D., Abraham Flexner, did, and his approach was to eliminate everything that wasn’t already proven science.  From there we have evolved to a “heal to the pill” mentality where words like root cause and placebo have been dropped from the vernacular.

 

Finally, funding is the key. It has been proven time and again that integrative medicine practices can reduce health care costs exponentially. With that in mind, every bill that comes out of Washington ignores that fact, and funding for many of these well-documented practices is not present. There were over 5000 codes in the Affordable Care Act that were intended to fund such practices as acupuncture, but when the FAQ initially was released, it said, in essence, “Don’t worry about paying these codes.”

 

If you go almost anywhere in Europe and Asia and you will see integrative practitioners thriving because their value is acknowledged and embraced. Of course, we’re not professing that a massage therapist performs open heart surgery, but we do know that Integrative medicine can help to reduce costs across the board.

 

There are many good things that can come from Integrative medicine. You just need to be open-minded.

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Memories of a new puppy and Pet Therapy

December 14th, 2016

It was a brisk, early, spring, weekend morning and Joanna, then a 16-year-old, now mother of four, said that we needed a transition dog. Tessie, our part-golden, part-black lab, part-border collie was getting long in the tooth, and it was our custom to always bring a replacement puppy into the house when the older dog was beginning to head toward the rainbow bridge.

So, at Jo’s insistence, we drove to a dog pound about 23 miles away. When we got there, it was closed, but she kept pushing hard for a new puppy.

We then headed for another sanctuary for abandoned dogs, a no kill shelter. That shelter was about 31 miles in the other direction. We arrived right before closing time and were directed to a room that was filled with a half dozen beautiful, little, white puppies.

The puppy that jumped the highest and yipped the most was not our choice. It was instead it’s little brother, the most loving and cuddly of the brood. The volunteer said that he was probably part sheep dog and part poodle, but we really didn’t care what he was because he was adorable.

We paid our fee, packed him up, jumped into the car and headed home to our older dog Tessie for what would become months of mothering, teaching and unconditional love and patience. Jo named him Brody, and it fit him perfectly.

Tessie taught him how and when to go to he bathroom and, she taught him to be terrified of thunder, to bark at the meter readers, to play with the cats as if they were his very best friends, and to beg from me at the table. While Brody reminded Tessie how to play, he became her adopted puppy.

One evening, a newly roasted turkey was placed on the stove to cool. While working on my computer, I heard some noise in the kitchen. The next thing I heard was puppy feet on the steps and then a thump, puppy feet and a thump, puppy feet and a thump. Then Brody, the puppy appeared at my chair, his belly was completely distended, and he smelled of turkey breath. He and Tessie had eaten the entire thing. Kind of like the Butkus dogs on “A Christmas Story.”

Well, Brody grew to be the best dog and best friend ever. In fact, when my mother visited, she would hold complete conversations with him as if he was a human being.

In her obituary I wrote that “She often scolded her sons for not talking enough to their animals.” Somehow the Pittsburgh newspaper accidentally changed that line to “She often scalded her sons for not talking enough to their animals.” Only those who knew my mom could have ever appreciated the absurdity of that printed mistake. So, when people said they were sorry and scanned my body for burn scars, I knew why.

It was about six years after he joined us that I went on a heart healthy diet that excluded all meat, and, since I was the only sucker in the family who would sneak him table scraps, he had to follow my diet. He became a vegetarian dog. In fact, with some of the new fat free products and make believe meats, I always made it a rulethat if Brody wouldn’t eat it, I wouldn’t eat it either. That diet extended both of our lives.

After Brody died my life became doggy less, and I’ve never gotten over that disconnect, but with my schedule and all of the traveling that I do, it would not be fair to either the dog or to me.

So, I always spend considerable petting time with my daughter’s dog, Chipper, and believe me when I tell you that when I’m around, he is completely spoiled in every way because I’m just a dog kinda guy.

And in Tessie’s memory I added pet therapy at the hospital while I was a CEO, and I’m still convinced that those dogs provided as much healing as many of the drugs.

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The Alpha and Omega of Healthcare in the United States

August 27th, 2011

While serving as a hospital administrator for over twenty years, I was aware of numerous people who had died in the emergency room because they had no insurance, had not yet qualified for Medicaid and were terrified that the cost of care would force them to live on the street.  Consequently, they waited too long to come in for treatment, and they died.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-W) and Gov. Peter Shumlin (D-VT) - Nick Jacobs, FACHE - Healing HospitalsModern Healthcare’s August 22nd edition has listed the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare in 2011. (Somehow they’ve missed me again.)  They’ve listed Republican  Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as the number one most influential person, and the Democratic Governor of Vermont, Peter Shumlin, as number two. Ryan is interested in a complete re-make of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and Shumlin wants to move the citizens of the State of Vermont to a government-run, single-payer system.

Needless to say, these are very different views. It’s interesting that they both agree that employer-based insurance should be eliminated, so that neither portability nor employment is an issue. They differ in that Ryan believes that each individual citizen should receive a refundable tax credit for healthcare and that providers should compete based upon quality, price and outcomes. Shumlin, on the other hand, wants to do away with “fee for service healthcare,” but clearly understands the American’s public’s concern about government-run anything, and even says, “Government has gotten it wrong, every single time.”

According to Modern Healthcare, both want to fix the system that is bankrupting the nation. Ryan wants to “maintain a world class system built on innovation and excellence,” while Shumlin wants that single payer system to eliminate waste, administrative overhead and insurance company profits. It is Shumlin’s contention that enacting all of the Tea Party cuts and taxing the wealthy would still lead to the same federal budget challenges in the trillions of dollars that we face now.

Ryan wants to cut $750 billion in Medicare spending by making the allocation a block grant. People like Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the AFL-CIO- affiliated National Nurses United labor union say, “The market isn’t magic and it doesn’t trickle down…the Paul Ryans of the world don’t want a society.  They want individuals and corporations to make ungodly amounts of money.”

And so the debate continues. There is no magic elixir that will fix this without huge disagreements and turf battles.  As the Obama legislation began to unfold, the initial reaction from many within his own party was that his administration had “sold out” to Big Pharma and numerous other lobbies, and, as the Republican plan continued to be unveiled, the response was similar to DeMoro’s, because it was so heavily skewed toward big business and the free market, while providing only marginal assistance for the underserved of this nation.

UPMC vs. Highmark (Illustration by Ted Crow, Post-Gazette) - Nick Jacobs, FACHEIronically, as I look out my window and then drive a block from my apartment in Pittsburgh, I see another new “colony” of homeless people living under the bridge, and as I round the corner under Route 279N, there is a virtual apartment building under that road comprised of sheets and blankets hung to create separate partitions for the individual homeless people to live. At the next light leading to the North Side, a 30ish young mom begs on the corner for money for her kids, and two blocks past her is a homeless Veteran asking for money as well.

In the midst of all of this, the $9 billion UPMC battle with the nearly $4 billion Highmark juggernaut continues over an insurance company owning a hospital, and a hospital owning an insurance company.  Surely, in the richest country in the world, there are answers to these challenges that do not bankrupt the pharmaceutical or insurance companies, do not make our physicians second class citizens, and do not close two thousand small and medium sized hospitals while still providing care for everyone.

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Excerpts and Opinions on “What Makes a Hospital Great?”

March 17th, 2011

Dr. Pauline W. Chen’s March 17th New York Times article answers the question, “What Makes a Hospital Great?” In this article, Dr. Chen finds:

Dr. Pauline W. Chen - surgeon & New York Times contributor - Nick Jacobs, FACHE

Pauline W. Chen, MD | Blog: paulinechen.typepad.com

“Hospitals have long vied for the greatest clinical reputation. Recent efforts to increase public accountability by publishing hospital results have added a statistical dimension to this battle of the health care titans. Information from most hospitals on mortality rates, readmissions and patient satisfaction is readily available on the Internet. A quick click of the green ‘compare’ button on the ‘Hospital Compare’ Web site operated by the Department of Health and Human Services gives any potential patient, or competitor, side-by-side lists of statistics from rival institutions that leaves little to the imagination. The upside of such transparency is that hospitals all over the country are eager to improve their patient outcomes. The downside is that no one really knows how.”

I’ve written often about the failed promise of technology alone, and this is reaffirmed in Dr. Chen’s findings:

“…hospitals have made huge investments in the latest and greatest in clinical care — efficient electronic medical records systems, ‘superstar’ physicians and world-class rehabilitation services. Nonetheless, large discrepancies persist between the highest and lowest-performing institutions, even with one of the starkest of the available statistics: patient deaths from heart attacks.”

As she asks why this is,  the answers have become relatively clear from a study that was released in the Annals of Internal Medicine this very week. This research indicated that it was not the expensive equipment, the evidence-based protocols, or the beautiful Ritz Carlton-like buildings. It was, instead, the culture of the organization.

Hosptials in both the top and bottom five  percent in heart attack mortality rates were queried by the study team. One hundred fifty interviews with administrators, doctors and other health care workers found that the key to good (or bad) care was “a cohesive organizational vision that focused on communication and support of all efforts to improve care.”

Elizabeth H. Bradley, Phd, Yale School of Public Health

Elizabeth H. Bradley, Phd, Yale Global Health Leadership Institute

“It’s how people communicate, the level of support and the organizational culture that trump any single intervention or any single strategy that hospitals frequently adopt,” said Elizabeth H. Bradley, Senior Author and Faculty Director of Yale University’s Global Health Leadership Institute.

So, it wasn’t the affiliation with an academic medical center, whether patients were wealthy or indigent, bed size, or rural vs. urban settings that mattered in hospital mortality rates. Rather, it was the way that patient care issues were challenged that made the difference. The physicians and leaders at top-performing hospitals aggressively go after errors. They acknowledge them, and do not criticize each other. Instead, they work together to identify the sources of problems, and to fix them.

One of the most telling findings in this study was that relationships inside the hospital are primary, and the physicians and staff must be committed to making things work. Dr. Bradley said. “It isn’t expensive and it isn’t rocket science, but it requires a real commitment from everyone.”

So, the next time that you select a hospital, look up its statistics, and I guarantee you that you will be surprised. When it comes to outcomes, to nurturing or even competent care, the biggest is not always the best.

Learn More:

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Thanksgiving and CHANGE…

November 21st, 2009

One of the sometimes-challenging realities of Thanksgiving is that it forces us to look into the microscope of our personal time here on earth and acknowledge the change that will always be a part of our humanity.  This week I received a phone call that should never have been necessary “in my lifetime.”  One of my former employees passed away. For those of you who have some knowledge of my past, you might scratch your head in confusion regarding my deep consternation and pain from the loss of one person, because there were literally thousands of employees with whom I have worked over the years. But, for the others of you who know me well, you will clearly understand.

When I became the president of my former hospital, the waves of change had touched on it shores only briefly as it had attempted to avoid being consumed by neighboring health systems.  Because of this challenge of competition, we were given the authority to “try some new things” to attempt to preserve the facility as a community hospital.  To say that the road ahead was laced with hazards would be a serious understatement, but we did  navigate those sometimes treacherous waters successfully.

Carolyn "Winnie" Horner (1961-2009)As my tenure began in this difficult environment, a few people stepped forward who “got it.”  Winnie Horner was one of those people.  She “got it” from our first presentation about our dreams and plans.  Winnie was literally one of a handful of people who was willing to put herself out there to help the hospital establish new dreams, new ideals, new goals, and new caring philosophies.

Because a concept seems easier to embrace if it can be identified with others, we became a Planetree Hospital, the third in the United States and the first in Pennsylvania.  It was our goal to become a Healing Hospital.  It helped to jump start us into a new world of compassionate, healing, loving care that literally gave new life to the organization and helped it to remain not only open but also to succeed in ways that could never have been imagined.

Winnie not only “got on board,” for a long time she became the engineer of that train.  Her passion, her kind ways, her belief in spirituality, her amazing  voice, and her commitment to change was always obvious and appreciated.  She was a leader, a champion, the Joan of Arc of this effort, and I loved her for this.

Unfortunately, she will not get to read this because, at 48 years of age, she died this week.  Unbeknownst to her, she had been working with pneumonia, but, like Winnie always did, she kept giving of herself.  Who would have ever thought that it would have had this ending, and her three beautiful children are now without their mom this Thanksgiving.

So today, I write to you, Winnie.  You were a very important part of the soul of Windber Medical Center, and your presence will always be felt, but your absence will be felt even more deeply.

For me, Thanksgiving has always been a time of change, starting at a very young age as grandparents, uncles, aunts, and parents passed on.  The empty chairs at the table were always indicative of our own mortality, and the loss of those we love, be it permanent or just because of the sometimes-messy circumstances that are a part of living,  is a reality that we all must deal with throughout our time here on Earth.

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It’s ironic that, as commercial as our country has become, the tradition of Thanksgiving has remained virtually untouched in the essence of its meaning.  If you are alone for Thanksgiving, or with a cast of dozens, take a moment to reflect upon your life and your gifts.  Understand that nothing is permanent, and that, like Winnie Horner, we all have a chance to make a difference in thousands of lives, a positive, forever difference.

This year, Winnie and her passionate partners were able to achieve something that has only happened a handful of times in the world.  Through their work, Windber became a Planetree Designated Hospital, a model of care in the Planetree philosophy, my final Windber dream.  Thank you, Winnie, and if any of you don’t believe that you can make a difference, a real difference, take a page out of “Winnie’s Book.”  She was one of the best.

Planetree banner

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Planetree or Bust!

October 4th, 2009

Those who have worked with me know that I have been unequivocally one of the most loyal supporters of the Planetree Philosophy of care in the world.

My former place of employment was the third Planetree hospital in the country, after Planetree’s headquarters moved to Griffin (Derby, CT.)  We were the first Planetree hospital in Pennsylvania, and that hospital, Windber Medical Center, is now one of the top ten Planetree-designated sites internationally.  After having served on the Board of Directors of Planetree for nearly eight years, having written literally dozens of blog posts and articles about Planetree,  having taught numerous online seminars for them, contributed a chapter to their latest book, and served on the Planetree Speaker’s Bureau for half a dozen years, I’m back once again with a presentation this Tuesday at the Planetree 2009 conference.  It’s called: Take Care of Your Employees and They Will Take Care of Your Patients.

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Although I was encouraged to retire from the board in order to give newer members their opportunity to participate, and am no longer a part of the Speaker’s Bureau, with no formal ties to the organization anymore, I want to assure you that my experience, passion, and commitment to humanizing healthcare, transparency, creating a nurturing environment for patients and their families could not be stronger.

Since my transition from formally running hospitals full time,  I have immersed myself deeply into the world of  helping hospitals through my consulting practice to achieve the patient, employee, and family satisfaction ratings that ensure top scores in HCHAPS which, in turn, will result in increased business, increased revenue, and increased growth for any organization.

Nick Jacobs, FACHE
Nick Jacobs, FACHE

I am including one of my lastest articles on Integrative Health written for Hospital News.  Remember, if I can help, just call, e-mail or or comment:

Integrative Medicine

Massage, Flower Essences, Spiritual Healing, Drumming, Reiki, Acupuncture, Music, Aroma, Humor, Pet, and Art Therapy; all of these healing practices were formerly referred to as Alternative or Complementary Medicine.  They deserve, however, to be referred to as Integrative Medicine. Because, when we integrate these various disciplines with other contemporary healing methodologies, the results can be amazing.

As a hospital CEO, it brought me great satisfaction to introduce all of these treatments to the healing environment of the hospital.  Many times they came amid intense resistance from both the medical staff, and some members of leadership.  In fact, after nearly 10 years of offering comprehensive exposure to Integrative Medicine, we still had a smattering of nonbelievers.  The only thing questionable about these therapies for a healthcare administrator is that the typical insurance companies don’t cover the costs of all of them and cash payments come into play.

The number of patients coming to our facility had tripled through the emergency room alone as did the overall budget of the entire organization during that time period.  Those “Forest for the Trees” practical leaders still could not bring themselves to give credit to one of the major contributing factors involved in that surge of the hospital’s popularity.  Yes, of course, we also encouraged 24 hour, seven day a week visiting, had guest beds in many patient’s rooms, and served meals to the families on the medical floor where their loved one was a patient. Did all of this combine to the create a healing environment?  Of course it did, but Integrative Medicine was the heart and soul of the difference.

Their skepticism seems to fit into the cycle of questioning the validity of wellness and prevention, two comprehensively established methodologies for improving general health and well-being, proven over centuries of unofficial clinical trials.  Wellness and Prevention works, but because the insurance companies have not yet fully embraced these philosophies, then some still say that they are not valid.  Treating sickness can be as comprehensive as ensuring wellness.  For whatever reason, some of our medical and administrative leaders often confuse reimbursements with healing, and forget to add new patients and additional income from related disciplines like PT and OT to the equation.

As a nonmedical, nonscientist, it was easy for me to understand why the various integrative arts worked so well for our patients and their families.  From the old song, “All You Need is Love,” you could easily enjoy the looks on the faces of those patients and family members who used these treatments to receive sorely needed relief from whatever pain or loneliness they were experiencing.  It doesn’t matter if you’re eighty minutes or eighty years old; touch, nurturing, and love all remain critical in our lives.  Have you seen the statistics on how much better people do with pets than without, or how many babies died in orphanages due to the “failure to thrive?”

None of these ancient arts were created because the scientific method produced FDA approved results in trials of 200,000 or more.  They evolved into centuries old healing arts because they provided relief and help in a time when leeches, bleedings, and a lack of hand washing were the accepted medical treatments.  The tribal shaman, medicine man, healers, and other spiritual leaders all knew what the subtle and not so subtle impact of their work meant to their fellow human beings.

We have casually observed the use of these healing modalities on patients who have experienced restored feelings to otherwise numb feet.

We have seen them relieved from debilitating back pain, healed from hopeless wounds, saved from surgeries due to the opening of blocked intestines through acupuncture.  We have observed psychological breakthroughs from drumming that had never been reached by traditional therapy.  Truthfully, I didn’t care exactly what made our patients better, just that they were better, and the results were dramatic, with an infection rate of 1% or less, a 3.4 day length of stay, a low readmission rate, and the lowest mortality rate for adjusted morbidity in the region.

Remember, “All You Need is Love.”

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On Data Breaches

September 4th, 2009

About two years ago, I had a call from my local bank asking if I had purchased a washer and dryer… in Barcelona, Spain. Somewhere, someone had gained access to my credit card number, and used it illegally for that  purchase overseas.

It was not too long after that that another bank informed me that my card had to be canceled because of a data breach at a national chain store where I had purchased some clothing. (I have since come to learn that this data breach has already cost their parent company over $220M.) Then, a few weeks later, another card had to be canceled and re-registered.  Finally, about three months after that, restrictions were placed on still another set of cards due to similar, but entirely unrelated breaches. Three cards, three banks, multiple breaches …and my wallet was still firmly tucked in my back pocket.

Joe Carberry / David Chamberlin / FORBES magazine - data breaches - NickJacobs.org
In a recent article in Forbes Magazine, the facts and figures of this new, growing phenomena were outlined statistically so as to begin to bring some sense to the table regarding what we are facing.  The authors, Joe Carberry and David J. Chamberlin state that “Only 36% of C-level executives are confident their organizations will not suffer data breaches in the  next 12 months.”

As healthcare gears up to go completely electronic, we must remember that there are, for all practical purposes, entire countries dedicating serious efforts to breach the United States data banks.  Hackers are no longer  identified as stereotypical, 98 pound computer savants.  Many of them are professional criminals and terrorists.  As a former CEO, I always had to be cognizant of the risk, then do whatever we felt we could afford to do to help mitigate that risk.  Rarely, however, have I seen any type of comprehensive commitment to a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach to this effort.

computer security1_220The laws that address data breaches involve not only civil but also criminal penalties, and the individual laws of various states are most times very different.  It doesn’t matter if your business is located in only one state. What matters is where your customers are from, and if they are a diverse group, you must comply with each
state law regulating breach notification.

SunStone Consulting, LLC, and Immersion Ltd., through their InfoLaunch suite of products, are positioned to assist you to prepare for any type of breach.  As Carberry and Chamberlin state, preparation must involve not only legal, but also communications, the C -suite, and risk management.  They further recommend the following steps:

1. Be prepared

2. Move quickly

3. Take action, and

4. Be responsible.

The  professional reputation damage that could be encountered by the hospital or physician practice that is not responsible, not prepared, slow moving, and not action-oriented can be devastating.

Are you prepared?

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Getting Money… Finding Money… Saving Money

August 29th, 2009

As a hospital CEO, one of the greatest challenges that I faced was that of resource allocation. Because my personal goals included making our organization:

  1. A facility that became recognized for its very high quality physicians
  2. A Planetree facility where you never had to “leave your dignity at the door”
  3. State of the art in every technological area
  4. The employer of choice in the area

…our financial challenges were sometimes overwhelming. This hospital was located in an area where the average salary was only $22,000 a year, the population continued to decrease, and there were three other hospitals within about eight miles of this facility.

money craneDue to these very real financial challenges, many of my nights during the eleven years of my presidency were sleepless ones. Consequently, it has become my personal mission in my consulting efforts to help remove the barriers for my former CEO peers so that they can meet their personal goals through a “Get, Find, or Save” philosophy.

Under the “Get new sources of funding” category, one of my successes was that of creating alternative solutions to very challenging problems. Many times we found new financial resources by following the “Road Less Traveled.” Although not all of these journeys were fruitful, the ones that were deserve to be replicated, so that other CEO’s might generate funds for their organizations using knowledge learned and perfected through these personal trials and errors. Included in this list were efforts in areas such as sophisticated diagnostics, the use of new high technology modalities, high-touch integrative medicine, special packages for wellness and prevention, a community workout facility, the use of molecular testing, and many more.

The “Find” portion of this equation comes from my associates at SunStone Consulting. Their particular skills and talents learned through years of work with the largest accounting firms have resulted in unique, proprietary software and knowledge that allows them to uncover monies already generated by your organization that otherwise might never be collected: Worker’s Comp, Transfer DRG’s, Pharmacy Charge master analysis, and a half dozen more areas bring these funds straight to your bottom line.

SunStone275

Finally, the “Save” piece of this puzzle is coming from a dozen new ideas, products, opportunities, and technologies that until very recently were generally unknown. Everything from software that provides your physicians with Continuing Medical Education Credits for researching their own patients to new Hazardous Medical Waste Recovery to FDA-approved technologies to identify wounds that have not yet manifested themselves. All of these are on the pallet for potential use in a hospital or clinical setting.

As the Executive Director of a 501(c) 3, nonprofit organization back in the early 1980’s, I remember hearing for the first time a hard core description of the personal qualities that should be considered by the executive when looking for a board member. While the original board member recruitment philosophy had been to seek out people who would either Work for or would bring Wealth or Wisdom to the organization, this particular advisor said, “We are looking for people who will Give Money, Get Money, or Get off the Board.”

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Well, if you are looking to find already-earned yet not collected resources, to create new resources, or to work with companies that bring you extensive savings and value, or if you are just looking for a little more sleep, look to those who have successfully navigated the white waters and thrived.

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NickJacobs.org???

April 2nd, 2009

Let me open this blog with a little housekeeping chore. Because I’ve retired from being a hospital president (Yes, they replaced me with two great people, count ‘em, two.) , I’d like to change the name of this thing. It’s not that I’ve established a P-Diddy-type Twitter following where 100,000 human beings are waiting with baited breath to see what my next move will be, it just doesn’t seem right to keep calling myself a hospital president. We know who reads this thing, and we are grateful to our loyal, talented, and brilliant followers. We also know that we can link the old blog names to get you here. So, regardless of what you typed, or what gets Googled, our genius social media maven & webmaster, Michael Russell, can help to bring you home to this site.

Okay, so as a transformational advisor, a broker of sorts, most people with whom we have consulted have described me as a person who can fix things that are broken before they actually break. Maybe we should call it the “Break it if it’s not already fixed” blog. I’d love it if it was a name that would generate millions of hits and companies would fight to advertise on it.

My first thought was to use nickjacobs in the title because there is a Nick Jacobs on Facebook who teaches Aboriginal people in Australia, and he seems popular. There is another Nick Jacobs who is a professional organist, and one who is an athlete. There’s a Nick Jacobs who is a consultant and another a paramedic in London, one who had a blog who is a yachtsman, there’s my son, the commercial real estate broker, and finally, there’s a Nick Jacobs who does pornographic movies who is not my son. Actually, that Nick Jacobs’ followers would probably be the most disappointed by this blog.

Since the .com version of nick jacobs was already taken by some guy in England, we captured nickjacobs.org, and that will work for right now.

If you have any ideas, however, that you think would really rock the blogspere, let us know and we’ll check with our domain registrar to see if it is available. In fact, if you are the winner of a Name Nick’s Blog Contest, I’d be happy to consult for free BY PHONE for at least one hour of brainstorming with you about the topic of your choice: music, healthcare, proteomics, teaching, PR/Marketing, the travel business, or even physician recruitment.

Remember, Hospital Impact is already taken, and, because my last three consulting jobs have been with a newspaper, a nonprofit arts oragnization, and a chain of hotels, we don’t want to think too restrictively. Gotta earn a little money, too.

When we ran the breast center, we found that the website got more hits than anyone could imagine. The problem was that the readers were mostly thirteen-year-old boys who probably weren’t too interested in running a hospital. After Miss America had visited us, the hits went up exponentially when those two searches were combined. Somehow, I don’t think that Nick Jacobs’ Breast Center for Miss America would probably get me the type of following I’m currently hoping to attract. On the other hand?

A very good friend recently asked me to write a brief bio about what my new life is like, and it struck me that it is very much like my old life but without any restrictions. This is what I wrote:

While teaching junior high school instrumental music in the early 1970’s, Nick Jacobs made an extraordinary discovery. He learned that, by empowering his students and surrounding them with positive influences, he no longer was providing a service or even an experience for them.

What this entirely unique teaching style resulted in was a method for helping to transform students. By providing with both passion and commitment the tools needed by them to undertake their journey, his involvement with the students became a means of dramatically helping them to make whatever positive life changes they were seeking.

It was during that early period in his career that he also discovered that this formula could work to positively change lives in almost any aspect of living as he ran an arts organization, a convention bureau, and finally a hospital and research institute.

Since that time he has dedicated his personal work to helping others make their lives better, and that is exactly what he is doing in his position as an international executive consultant with SunStone Consulting, LLC.

Maybe that will give you something to chew on? Okay, something on which to chew.

SunStone Consulting. With more than 20 years experience in executive hospital leadership, Nick has an acknowledged reputation for innovation and patient-centered care approaches to health and healing.

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Like Deep Sea Fishing

February 2nd, 2009

Being a little older or just more chronologically mature makes this new life of consulting somewhat like snorkeling or even deep sea fishing for me. It’s a whole new world out there. If the total culmination of all of my experiences were listed on an 8½” x11″ sheet of paper in order of interest, category, and complexity, it would have to be written in 4 pt. type.

When it comes to prioritizing, cataloging, and quantifying my consulting practice desires, skills, knowledge base or just interests, this gets somewhat crazy at times.

For example: Planetree and the Samueli Institute have both captured my imagination and, I’m sure that over the years, I’ve captured theirs as well. Optimal Healing and Patient Centered Environments are my forte, my passion, and my love.

Do you know all about Web 2.0 …or 3.0, as some are calling it now? I’ve presented all over the United States and been featured on podcasts and webinars for years. How should you use Twitter, YouTube, and other streaming video platforms, Facebook, Blogs, Podcasts, Webinars, and other new technologies to move your business forward, to publicize your specialities, and to get your company’s name out there?

The actual science of microbiology is NOT necessarily one of my passions or deep skill sets, but running a research institute for nearly a dozen years that specialized in proteomics, genomics, biomedical informatics, and histopathology while interacting with the Department of Defense and Military medicine community certainly is a skill base developed through massive amounts of tears, sweat, and blood (my own). This information alone should be something that someone needs to know about on a regular basis.

The world of small and rural hospitals you say? My goodness, name someone who has had more “edgerunning” experience in this area than I have, and I’ll personally send them flowers. The growth, nurturing, care and feeding of a hospital that is smaller than 100 beds takes special stamina and a very positive mental outlook, because limited resources require unlimited creativity.

Economic Development through technology, healthcare, small businesses, and even tourism seems to have been a recurring theme in my world for decades. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.

How about OC-48 dark fiber, telemedicine, teleradiology, telepharmacy, telecritical care, and teledermatology? Been there, done most of that, and have been working with groups and contacts who can add electronic medical records, disaster recovery/business continuity, data fusion centers, and other areas of specialty to your needs.

Interested in being an all-GE shop? Going completely digital? Having a 3T MRI with a breast coil? How about mobile PET/CT or the latest in mammography, and data repository technology? Okay, I’m not an expert, but I sure do have some interesting knowledge and amazing contacts here, and when it comes to breast care centers, we constructed one of the finest in the world.

Green? Wanna be green? Well, unlike Kermit’s song, it can be easy being green, and one of my current assignments involves everything green for schools, churches, and, most importantly, hospitals. How to get there, how to save, and most importantly, how to MAKE money from going green is currently something that we understand.

The Dean Ornish Coronary Artery Disease Reversal Program that we established is one of the best in the country, and we know how to set them up, run them, and help them prosper.

What about the World Health Organization? Work in the Netherlands, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, England, Italy, Greece, and even Africa interests me deeply, and my contact lists from those areas are very long indeed.

Construction? How to afford it? Alternatives to traditional methodologies, traditional financing, and Planetree design? Yep, we have that knowledge base, too.

Of course, there are things that you probably haven’t even considered: Wellness or EQ education, Patient Centered Care models, employee centered care to get you to patient centered care, the use of Markeking to grow your organization and to protect your position, and don’t forget: board relations, strategic planning, employee education, and, of course, nutrition.

Now, add to that this list of skills that SunStone brings to our table as well: the CDM, charge process, Compliance, Documentation Accuracy, Inpatient Coding and Compliance, Outpatient Charge Process Analysis, Outpatient Billing Maintenance, Pharmacy Revenue Cycle, Pricing, Recovery Audit Contractor Readiness, Reimbursement and Financial Analysis, Revenue Cycle, Transfer DRG’s and Workers’ Compensation Recovery.

IF YOU NEED US… Remember:

F. Nicholas Jacobs, FACHE
International Director
SunStone Consulting, LLC
1411 Grandview Avenue,
Suite. 803
Pittsburgh, PA 15211
nickjacobs@sunstoneconsulting.com

Home Office: 412-381-3136
Mobile: 412-992-6197
Fax: 866-381-0219

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